Professor David Nicol
Professor David Nicol, Consultant Urological Surgeon and Chief of Surgery, takes us through his work day.
I tend to start work quite early in the morning – because my days are varied and busy, and my office is shared with other members of the urology team, this tends to be the only time I get to quietly go through emails or other administrative tasks.
Around 8am, I go to meet the patients I will be operating on that day. We have a wonderful team of clinical nurse specialists (CnSs), who support our patients through treatment and are essential in helping to explain what will happen to them during surgery and afterwards, but it is also very important that I see my patients before I operate on them.
I will review their scans and make sure that they have consented to the operation. They may have some last-minute questions that need to be answered – it is crucial that patients feel they have all the information they need.
Doing the rounds
I will then usually go to the wards to see my inpatients. These are often patients who are recovering from their recent operations. I operate on people with kidney or testicular cancer: my kidney patients tend to be of an older age group, whereas those with testicular cancer are much younger.
This means they often face different challenges that must be addressed post-surgery – for example, fertility or body image issues. Again, this is where our CnSs and support staff are so important in helping our patients through what can be a very difficult time.
On an operating day, after visiting my inpatients, I will go down to theatres to begin my first operation. On a full operating day, I can perform up to three procedures, so it can be long – but I work with a very talented surgical team who help me to do my job. I also work closely with my colleagues in other hospital departments – at The Royal Marsden, we take a real multidisciplinary approach to treating patients to ensure they get the best possible treatment.
It’s crucial that patients have all the information they need before an operation
As The Royal Marsden’s Chief of Surgery, I also have a managerial and strategic role to develop collaborations and partnerships with external organisations and hospitals, so that we can maximise the services we offer our patients. As part of the London Cancer Alliance, we are trying to ensure that cancer patients in London receive the best care possible, no matter which hospital they go to.
I also have to make sure that The Royal Marsden continues to pioneer new surgical techniques and innovations for all tumour types – which, in an ever-changing healthcare landscape, can be challenging.
There is definitely a lot of juggling of work involved in my job, but leading surgery at Europe’s top cancer centre is a very exciting and rewarding role. It is a great job that I love, and I’m looking forward to ensuring that The Royal Marsden continues as a world leader in cancer surgery.